When the appointed forget their mandate

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When the appointed forget their mandate Prof Moyo
Prof Moyo

Prof Moyo

Reason Wafawarova on Thursday
Professor Jonathan Moyo is in apparent trouble both as a member of Zanu-PF’s Politburo and as a Cabinet Minister, and he knows it.

Like his nemesis Chris Mutsvangwa, also frantically fighting plots to oust him from the Politburo and from his powerful twin jacket of being the Chairman of the war veterans association and the Minister for the same War Veterans; Jonathan Moyo is pleading the authority of the appointer as a shield against imminent dire ramifications in the aftermath of his puerile social media wars.

Both men are telling their critics and detractors that any attack on them amounts to an attack on their appointer – something similar to saying if you call me an idiot you are saying my mother gave birth to an idiot, and as such my mother becomes the real target of your insult, not me.

Of course this is a tactic to incite the mother into fury, so that per adventure she might choose to deal with the annoying problem on behalf of the insulted.

Let us begin with quotes from Professor Moyo. This is what he once said about his appointer President Mugabe 10 years ago.

“One does not need to be a malcontent to see that, after 25 years of controversial rule and with the economy melting down as a direct result of that rule, Mugabe’s continued stay in office has become such an excessive burden to the welfare of the state and such a fatal danger to the public interest of Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora that each day that goes by with him in office leaves the nation’s survival at great risk while seriously compromising national sovereignty.”

This quote reveals the thinking trend of an unappointed man, outside the system, frustrated, perhaps expressing his honest self without the constraints of patronage forces. This was Jonathan Moyo after he had been expelled from both Zanu-PF and government in 2005.

Moyo recently told The Standard that Presidential spokesman Mr George Charamba intimated to him that, “Minister, the system does not trust you at all.”

In what appears to be typical foolhardy bravery, Moyo retorted that the system “should go to hell and I don’t care what anyone is going to do to me because of that.”

Moyo says he has fast learnt how to exercise “24/7 loyalty” to his “appointing authority,” when he is not defiantly ignoring counsel and direction from the same appointing authority, like increasing his tweeting frenzy at the very time the appointing authority is calling for restraint on the abuse of social media by his appointees.

“I have learnt that at all times I must remain loyal to my appointing authority and forget the rest,” Moyo said in the February 6, 2016 interview with the pro-opposition weekly.

Let me say what Charamba referred to as “the system,” is a reality Jonathan and his excitable friends can only ignore to their own peril.

Zanu-PF is a war-founded party, a liberation movement, a party synonymous with war veterans, and I must add a party that derives its legitimacy from its role in waging the war for independence. Jonathan Moyo helped to express this reality so eloquently when he was first appointed Information Minister in 2000, and he of all people must know the importance of war veterans in the system – war veterans within and outside the official security system.

I must add that Moyo’s proclaimed loyalty to his appointing authority sounds feigned when expressed in the context of this crossfire with war veterans.

I am sure the appointing authority, who was to Moyo ten years ago “an excessive burden to the welfare of the state,” and “a fatal danger to the public interest of Zimbabweans,” will not be overly impressed to hear that Moyo continues to fight his battles using tweeter and hostile media houses. The appointer’s position on social media and what he has called “opposition media mouthpieces” is on record.

Chris Mutsvangwa seems to have a constituency backing him, but he too is of the belief that the alpha and omega of his mandate lies with his appointer, not with the people he is mandated to serve. That line of thought, which he shares with his adversary Moyo, is frankly retrogressive, if not dangerous.

The effects of patronage appointments on public policy are a vigorously debated topic among management scholars, and my guess is Professor Moyo is one of them by training.

There is no unified position on whether appointees or careerist bureaucrats have the best impact on public management.

Generally we frown upon patronage appointments as mostly having a negative impact on public policy. The central competence of bureaucrats is largely the key to performance in the public sector, not their political affiliation.

Those who advocate increased responsiveness among bureaucrats have argued in favour of patronage appointees, who naturally are obliged to respond more enthusiastically to the vision of the political appointer. The argument here is that politics and administration are intertwined.

To increase outcome there is need to combine non-partisan objectivity with responsiveness towards appointers.

There is an argument that says appointees bring to administration more energy than careerists, and that they even add more value to human capital. The view is that appointees contribute to a better implementation of the political principal’s agenda.

While responsiveness is the outstanding advantage of patronage, it is hard to believe that appointees in Zimbabwe have contributed to better implementation of policy.

Careerist bureaucrats tend to make choices based on their own preferences and orientations, and sometimes they diverge from the political agenda. One is reminded of the Gono-Kasukuwere conflict over the indigenisation policy.

Political appointees naturally mitigate the lack of trust that the executive may have in non-elected officials tasked with exercising political discretion.

Important as it is, responsiveness does not outweigh strategic planning, public management, and effective outcome – all advantages generally attributed to the careerist bureaucrat.

If only political appointees could satisfy the professional criteria, they could easily satisfy the prerequisites for efficiency, responsiveness, and objectivity.

David E. Lewis (2007) concludes that programs administered by political appointees get lower results than programs administered by careerist bureaucrats.

The mediocrity in the leadership of Zimbabwe today is a clear vindication of the hypothesis that says merit-based systems evidently yield better effectiveness in governance.

Let us look at four categories of effects of patronage appointments, namely political consequences, institutional consequences, consequences on social policies, and consequences on economic policies.

Scholars agree that across democracies and non-democracies, politicians mainly use political appointments as a method to boost political support. The problem is politicised bureaucracies are dogged by partisanship – and it is never healthy for governance to have partisanship shaping policy choices.

One political consequence of patronage appointments is fragile political institutions, like the emergence of corrupt judges, MPs, Ministers, and other high-ranking public officials.

This results in defective political systems that do not transform political inputs into outputs. The political input of land reclamation still has to meaningfully transform into gainful output for Zimbabwe, for example.

One political consequence of patronage appointments is mistrust in public institutions, and we know very well how Zimbabweans have lost trust in our public institutions, leading the pack being the ZBC.

There are also institutional consequences to patronage appointments. The main difference between efficient and non-efficient bureaucracies is shelled in the personnel that run the organisation. It is common knowledge that in patronised public sectors politicians do not pay much attention to appointees’ qualifications and knowledge.

Jonathan Moyo may recall the incessant criticism he faced over some of the people he reportedly appointed to lead media publications in the past, starting from his debut in 2000.

When the public sector gets patronised, public policies delivered are neither efficient, effective, nor economically advantageous.

There is this other dangerous institutional consequence where appointees’ choices are not based on evidence and record, but are guided by political expediency. These appointees define tasks from the political principal’s perspective, which may, or may not be in the best interest of the population.

Of course if the interest of the political principal is neglected then there is a principal-agent conflict, like how the Mayor of Harare has in the past clashed with party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Some appointees are morally hazardous, and they abuse their discretionary latitude for personal ends, and that is not uncommon in our country.

Appointees often disrupt the implementation of reforms and other long-term policies, mainly because politicians and senior appointed bureaucrats often have short-term objectives. They are not usually preoccupied with issues about the economy or efficiency.

Policies from our politicians tend to be short-term oriented, symbolic, often with very little impact.

There are also consequences on social policy. Patronage promotes the idea of channelling public resources to party networks of support and clientele.

In Ghana in 1999, up to 30 percent more funding was directed to schools where the ruling party had scored well in the 1996 election, and similar trends have been noted across the continent.

It can get worse. In Pakistan in 2010, only strongholds of the ruling party received flood aid, after the country had been hit by devastating floods.

Social spending is correlated with patronage spending, and also depends on electoral spending. We are used to the reality that social spending increases before an election, and decreases thereafter.

Patronage appointments can result in unequal provision of education, health, justice, social security, infrastructure, policing, and even justice.

It is important for politicians to make citizens dependent on patronage networks, and this is how our politicians are controlling our youth today in Zimbabwe.

Lastly we also have consequences on economic development. We cannot overemphasise the deadly effects of corruption and nepotism. Patronised public sectors are always permanently expanding in terms of personnel size and in budgetary spending. It is next to impossible to try and downsize on the civil service in Africa, and Zimbabwe is no exception.

Until 2007, Argentina’s public spending exceeded revenue growth, like is our case today, but the Argentinian government continued to increase personnel spending by increasing employment by 40 percent, leading to economic meltdown.

We relate very well as a country to this scenario. However our leadership must know that growth is much dependent on governance; and that investors avoid long-term investments in countries with patronised public sectors.

Of course this is because of the corruption, unpredictability, lack of transparency, and reduced accountability.

We have this untenable situation in Zimbabwe where the appointed have even reached a point of altercations over who is most loyal to the political appointer.

But we all know that the political appointer is accountable to the people of Zimbabwe – to the voters who employ him as the Head of State.

For as long as the appointees in Zimbabwe do not realise that accountability is to the people before it is to the appointer, we are going to continue to have these nefarious agendas that lead to incessant factionalism within Zanu-PF.

Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!!

  • Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in SYDNEY, Australia.

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